My priority this morning was to get my by now sizeable collection of surplus gear, mainly books and photo CDs, sent home. The guidebook let me down again though since the post office prescribed by them was no longer the main one and only there would they accept it, what a ridiculous affair. A boy there gave me directions to the other one but it was too late, I had a flight to catch in a couple of hours and couldnt risk missing it. I'd sacrificed my favourite and difficult to find tea and ommelette for nothing, such small things had come to mean a lot. Thankfully I had more success with the habitually dodgy airport bus service, a friendly female in full Chador took it upon herself to make sure I got it, she probably let her own bus go by twice or more as a consequence. Maybe it was islamic charity that had been imbued in her but it was nice to see her personality had not been subdued into the bargain. Not even allowed to shake her hand, I thanked her with chocolate I had been saving for just such an occasion.
Though mine was an overland trip it was actually much more than a traverse, it was trying to take in as much as possible within the constraints of time and visa, and I was going to give Iran the full treatment. Considering the difficulty of the aforementioned visa fiasco, I might never be back. It sometimes made sense then to take a repositioning flight and considering Mashad was remote, cut off by desert from the rest of Iran and close to dodgy Afghan border smuggler country, my flight to Kerman would put me back on track in good time and in safety. The fantastic rip off of 7000 Toman for chelo kebab (about 5 quid) at the airport was outrageous, and was more than I paid for a bed that night. Boarding the MD-83 of Mahan Air, the flight briefing was introduced with the eternal "in the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful", boy this country really did have it bad. Even more surprsing than the dual Farsi and English briefing was that the captain only ever spoke English and may have been Irish. Allah didnt favour me that day though. Either side of clear blue sky days, my panorama of the desert was blotted out by a lot of cloud and I only managed to catch snapshots of rugged snow laden mountains which contrasted starkly with the lower golden desert plains. In true Asian fashion I had boarded to find 2 kids in my seat and I just had to take one opposite, it wouldnt happen on the Heathrow shuttle. Landing at Kerman I endured a taxi shark determined to get a hotel commission out of me too but at 3 quid a room it didnt matter. I pursued a perverse pleasure in bullshit again, this time I was a French engineer and I could see him quickly totting up with the bean counter in his head to see how much he reckoned I was worth. Predictably he took me to a palace but it played right into my hands, he couldnt have guessed that my den of choice was the cheap joint virtually next door. With most of the day gone I sought out the post office as a priority, but it was Thursday afternoon and the weekend had already started. Bollocks.
The bazaar, though not the largest, was quite a nice one and in search of one of several renowned teahouses in the vicinity I found one closed, another untraceable and a third where I did not expect to find it. Its approach lay down a steep atmospheric passageway of stairs made too large for daily use. At the bottom a short moat had to be negotiated on stepping stones and with a swish back of the curtained doorway I found myself in a very high vaulted chamber which had once been the city's reservoir. Nicely decked out with the usual cushioned benches and wall-hung carpets, the spell was broken by the cheap disposable plastic cup I had to drink my tea out of. Couldnt they see that such a thing would stop repeat custom? It certainly stopped me from going back. It was too late to visit the ancient bathhouse so I found a burger joint with a wee sweetheart who giggled incessantly at the hairy alien, then I expressed my loneliness on the net.